PennVet | Dean's Message
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Dean's Message

Published: Sep 25, 2018

Breaking Boundaries, Revolutionizing Veterinary Medicine

Dean Andrew Hoffman, Penn VetI am honored to address you as the dean of Penn Vet. I fell in love with animals at New Bolton Center when I was a kid. The big-hearted field service (dairy) professor Dick
Bartholomew, a family friend, introduced me to large animal practice, which instantly grew as a passion. To be the steward of Penn Vet, including New Bolton and its field services, is a distinct privilege.

Penn Vet is one of the greatest veterinary schools in the world. In my new role, I am bolstered by the School’s illustrious past and supported by its incomparable faculty, passionate Board of Overseers, enthusiastic students, and committed alumni. And I am indebted to my predecessor, Dean Joan Hendricks, who helped the School strengthen
ties between veterinary and human medicine, grow research programs, and increase giving.

Part of what excites me about joining Penn Vet is our proximity to the rest of the University. Writer Eric Weiner recently coined the term “Geography of Genius” to describe physical areas that have historically cultivated creativity, ingenuity, and innovation. Arguably, Penn is such a place, with genius mapped across its campus.

This geography is an important element of Penn Vet’s future. Veterinarians ask questions with implications for animal, human, and environmental health. We can’t answer them in a vacuum. Cross-disciplinary collaboration with peer practitioners and researchers is critical in tackling monumental global challenges, from chronic and fatal disease to food security, biosecurity to biodiversity, climate change to antimicrobial stewardship.

As I define my plans for the School, breaking down walls that have historically separated different disciplines — an effort Dean Robert Marshak started years ago and Dean Hendricks carried further — will remain a priority.

Our field must also push boundaries in clinical settings. It’s incredibly compelling that veterinarians can be access points to human health and well-being. People seek our knowledge and care when their pets or livestock are ill. We get to know these animal owners, and this relationship becomes an opportunity to help them find or access health care for their own lives.

Toward these goals, the School must transform our curriculum to educate 21st-century students for traditional clinical practice and emerging career pathways. One of the major focuses of my first year will be working with my colleagues to innovate how we prepare future veterinarians to work in a world characterized by globalization, population growth, and rapid technological advances. The focus will be an innovative curriculum that enables students to create career pathways adapted to the new world.

Part of this effort will be strengthened by making veterinary medicine more inclusive. To thrive, Penn Vet’s student body and our profession need to reflect the world in which we live. We’ve done a good job of attracting women to veterinary medicine. Now we need to do a much better job of inviting underrepresented communities.

This is an exhilarating time for Penn Vet, one holding revolutionary promise for veterinary medicine. The recently launched The Power of Penn Campaign will attract new resources for the School, enabling us to reach ambitious but attainable goals. You represent the School’s excellence and can help shape its vibrant future. Your support and counsel are critical. I look forward to fruitful conversations and working together in the years to come.